Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Saturday, August 16
Arsenal in fine form
Arsenal meet Crystal Palace in their opening game of the new Premier League season and, even prior to Tony Pulis’ shock departure, would have been overwhelming favourites to secure victory.
The Gunners performed excellently against an albeit lacklustre Manchester City last weekend to secure victory in the Community Shield, which offered yet more optimism after a notable summer of spending in the transfer market.
Arsene Wenger has spent almost £70 million so far on four acquisitions, Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Calum Chambers, and there could be further additions before the transfer deadline.
Dark days for Palace
Their opponents on Saturday have not enjoyed such fortune over the past few weeks, with Frazier Campbell and Martin Kelly the only players to have arrived for transfer fees, and the latter signing the day the manager departed.
Pulis had wanted to assume greater control of transfer dealings with the club having missed out on a number of his key targets, and this tension led to his departure despite the heroics he was able to perform last season.
Keith Millen takes temporary charge and faces the somewhat daunting prospect of keeping Arsenal at bay, with the north London club set to welcome premier striker Olivier Giroud back into their starting line-up.
Yaya Sanogo was preferred to his compatriot for the Community Shield, but Giroud came on at half-time and scored the third goal of three as Arsenal romped to glory against last season’s Premier League winners.
This should be the only change to the XI that started at Wembley. Laurent Koscielny has been a fitness doubt this week, but is expected to recover in time to play alongside Chambers at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
Chambers has impressed in this role but retains his spot purely because Per Mertesacker is not yet ready to return, with the World Cup winner’s compatriots Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski also rested ahead of greater tests to come.
Watch: The latest Arsenal transfer news
Arsenal XI to face Crystal Palace
Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs
Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla